Judges 16:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 16:17, NIV: So he told her everything. 'No razor has ever been used on my head,' he said, 'because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother's womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.'

Judges 16:17, ESV: And he told her all his heart, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head is shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak and be like any other man.”

Judges 16:17, KJV: That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a rasor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.

Judges 16:17, NASB: So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, 'A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.'

Judges 16:17, NLT: Finally, Samson shared his secret with her. 'My hair has never been cut,' he confessed, 'for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as anyone else.'

Judges 16:17, CSB: he told her the whole truth and said to her, "My hair has never been cut, because I am a Nazirite to God from birth. If I am shaved, my strength will leave me, and I will become weak and be like any other man."

What does Judges 16:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

God's Spirit has given Samson the power to tear apart lions (Judges 14:5–6), stack up the corpses of enemy soldiers (Judges 15:14–15), and rip city gates out of the ground (Judges 16:3). That physical power does not make Samson wise, nor does it give him emotional strength. Here, he exhausts his ability to resist a woman's manipulation.

He loves a woman, Delilah, but does not know she's a paid spy for his enemies (Judges 16:4–6). She's lulled him into a false sense of security (Judges 16:7–16) and begun crying over his supposed lack of love. The struggle to keep his important secret, while under such pressure, has been making Samson deeply soul sick. Intellectually, he knows how foolish it would be to tell anyone how to erase his supernatural strength.

Still, as a man, he naturally longs for the woman he loves to give him her full acceptance. He desperately wanted to believe she was fully committed to him. Samson had ignored all the warning signs and common sense that would have kept him from this dangerous state of mind. Now, convinced she's loyal and desperate for her approval, he tells her the secret. In fact, he seems to start from the very beginning.

Samson reveals to Delilah what his parents told him about who he truly was. He was set apart by the Lord for a special purpose even before he was born (Judges 13:3–5). Nazirite vows involved many restrictions (Numbers 6:1–21), but the only one explicitly given to Samson was that he must never cut his hair. He tells her the truth she's been trying to wrest from him all along: if his head is shaved, he will be no stronger than any other man.

This is the first time Scripture suggests that Samson's supernatural, Spirit-empowered strength was directly connected to his hair. Yet Samson clearly understood that to be true. He somehow knew that if this requirement of his Nazirite life were broken, the Lord would remove his strength. This is not because God imbued the hair, itself, with magical power. Rather, the uncut hair was a sign of submissive obedience to God.

That knowledge is key to understanding why God will take away Samson's power, though his hair is cut without his knowledge (Judges 16:18–20). Foolishly revealing the secret is, itself, a sign of rebellious disobedience. By telling Delilah how to erase his God-given strength, Samson might as well have shaved his own head.

Samson seems to assume Delilah loves him, so she won't follow through as she had done with the earlier, less-extreme incidents. He's tragically wrong on both accounts.